HR experts to help raise salaries in welfare sector

HR experts to help raise salaries in welfare sector
National Council of Social Service chief Sim Gim Guan (left) and Sims Drive resident Yeo Kim Huat, 55, sit down for a chat in the latter's flat during a distribution drive of hampers to low income families in the Aljunied and Paya Lebar area on 23 May 2014.

SINGAPORE - The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) has been bringing in human resource experts to help welfare groups tackle a key issue in the sector – pay.

Salaries of social service professionals lag behind those of their peers in other sectors, statistics show.

The team of HR experts will consult voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) on how to raise the pay to benchmarks suggested by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in 2012.

Under its guidelines, a social worker fresh out of university should be paid $2,760.

Figures from the Graduate Employment Survey by several universities here showed that the median pay for all new graduates last year was $3,050.

So far, the council has worked with 31 VWOs, with 13 of them intending to increase the salaries of their staff from July. Most of the others will adjust their staff’s salaries later, when the new salary cycles of their organisations kick in.

NCSS chief Sim Gim Guan said: “We believe the salaries will rise and their pay should be competitive, as those in other sectors such as health and education.”

Increasing pay is key in attracting more to the sector – especially given the needs of an ageing population and the manpower crunch facing the industry.

For the next three years, the MSF estimates that there will be an annual shortfall of about 130 social workers.

Currently, there are 8,000 people working in the sector, of whom 1,400 are registered social workers and social service practitioners.

In 2012, the MSF pumped in an extra $10 million, with a large portion used to help VWOs provide competitive pay to attract and retain staff.

This article was first published on May 25, 2014.
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